Welcome to the Blog! or, A History of the Friend Dogs

Hey Patrons! Ben here.

You are among the few, the proud, the *very first* viewers of our behind-the-scenes blog. This blog is set up only for you. Only you have the link, and indexing is turned off so it shouldn't show up even on search engines. It's just a special chat between us and you. So have a seat. Grab a beer. Take your socks off. I dunno. Just want you to be comfy.

This is a bit of a longer post. I'll provide a tl;dr at the bottom, but for anyone unfamiliar with our history, or who is interested in comedy writing and the like, I thought you might enjoy a little look into what got us here.

In January of 2015, following a string of popular improv shows we'd performed as a duo in Kansas City, Brian and I released the pilot episode of a web series based on alt-universe versions of ourselves. Our duo was called "Dog & Friend Dog," and so was the series. It was weird. We had fun showing it off at a couple of public screenings and said we'd make more eventually.

 On set for our "pilot."

On set for our "pilot."

In September 2015, we officially launched Friend Dog Studios with our friend Seth Macchi. We made a little video about being roommates with God. We made the second episode of our web series. Our friends chuckled and our moms said good job.

One month into this project, we made a Trump video. Mind you, at this point, the man didn't even have the nomination, and most of us were still relatively sure we lived in a sane universe where he'd never come close. Our take on him was that if you just close your eyes and listen to him talk, it's indistinguishable from the drunken babble of your local neighborhood booze hound.

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On an October morning, sitting on our front deck (we all lived together at the time), we shot a poorly white-balanced sequence of Brian lip-syncing Trump sound bites to Seth. If I remember correctly, I spent the latter part of the day editing it together and we launched it the following morning.

It exploded.

I think we spent the entire day excitedly watching the views and shares pile up. It was a decent success on youtube, but facebook is where it really thrived. Within a week or so I can't even tell you how many millions of views had accrued - especially when you factor in the copies that other pages decided to post without permission (lookin' at you, Occupy Democrats. Ya dicks.)

If you haven't experienced something like this, let me tell you, it's RIDICULOUS. We weren't some big company. Despite our name, we didn't have a studio to speak of. We had no staff, no nothing.  And suddenly the three of us are fielding phone calls and doing interviews and sifting through piles of emails from people who, for better or for worse, saw something popular and wanted on board. Did you know there's an entire industry of companies that just find viral videos and manage the licensing rights for a fee? We sure as hell didn't. But we found out quick. Within hours of launch we were in a bidding war with two such companies. We had absolutely no idea if we were making the right call. It was all so exciting, but overwhelming. Intense.

Aggregator sites were running with it. We were getting mentioned in publications like The Atlantic. We made a development deal with another company as a direct result of this video. I can't go into detail but suffice it to say that series was never released and served as just one of several learning experiences in the wake of all this. Personally, I wasn't sure if this was the start of a new chapter or if we'd simply peaked early and that would be the end of it.

We kept on making content and posting it regularly. We set goals on Patreon that were ENTIRELY too low and over-promised out of a general lack of ever-having-done-this-before. We went from committing to a new video every two weeks, to a video per week, to a video AND a podcast per week. Mind you, none of us had cloned ourselves.

 Thumbnail from one of our more modest hits, "Honest Preacher."

Thumbnail from one of our more modest hits, "Honest Preacher."

We made dozens more videos. Some of them become moderate hits, some fan favorites, some personal favorites. We continued to make episodes of the Drunk Trump series, which remained popular but never again hit as big as the original, which came as no surprise.

 On set for one of my favorites, "The Fancy Butt."

On set for one of my favorites, "The Fancy Butt."

Eventually, our promised release schedule and over-zealous Patreon perks became too much to handle, especially since we all had to work other jobs to pay the bills. We had to slow down, but we kept on creating, because we loved it, and we loved our fans, which were growing in number all the time.

After about a year of this, we made a video called 2016: The Movie (Trailer). To clear up any confusion, there is no movie. The fake trailer is the extent of the concept. The concept being a horror flick in which a personification of the year 2016 is the monster, running around killing off celebrities and causing political mayhem. It was a cute idea. As had happened several times before, we were lucky as hell and got an incredible crew on board to help despite our measly budget.

We had another explosion on our hands.

The success of this video dwarfed our first viral hit, which I'd become convinced we'd never even match again. I'll spare you the details except to say that this took over our lives for a solid four days after launch. We posted it, fittingly, shortly before the end of the year, and it ran wild into early January. I attribute a lot of the success of this piece to the stellar production quality provided by The Vetter Brothers and their team. Having been down this road before, it was a little easier this time to just sit back and enjoy the ride, not worrying so much about what it did or didn't mean for the future.

 Production still from one of our musicals,  The Ballad of Lefty & Crabbe

Production still from one of our musicals, The Ballad of Lefty & Crabbe

You might think this is the part where we put pedal to the metal and really doubled down on our online content creation. But the truth is, we were a little burned out. Plus, we had other professional opportunities we were eager to explore. Over the next year and a half, we weren't posting as much. We'd create something new every now and then, including some stuff I'm really quite proud of. But a large portion of our efforts during this time were dedicated to the creation and production of two original musical comedies, which is a whole other blog post.

Cut to this summer, 2018. Brian and I are living in Chicago. Seth is in Colorado, taking a hiatus from the entertainment world. We get the itch to start making for our online audience again. Consistently. Earnestly. Learning from experience, we paced ourselves. We adjusted our patreon perks and goals to be more manageable. We adopted a "season" approach, the idea being we make several episodes, take a break, and decide when to renew ourselves for the next one. And we're having a blast again.

All of this, ALL OF IT, is only possible because of you. We have been blown away at every step by the support and generosity of our fans and audience, ESPECIALLY our patrons. We're actors. Writers. Comedians. We're dudes who chose to dive into just about the most uncertain careers you can pick, and we did it because, well, speaking for myself, I never felt I really had a choice. I had to do this. I have to do this. It's the only thing that makes any sense to me. And even though, at times, it's hard as hell, having people like you chipping in so that I can be a part of making something for us all to enjoy, that's about enough to make me feel invincible.

Thank you. Thank you all.

Here's to our futures. Whatever they hold.

Ok, now I gotta get back to making this Alex Jones video.

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tl;dr we made videos and now we're making videos again thank you